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Albert Hap Boyer (1928-2012): Metis Fiddler

Hap Boyer was a legend in the field of traditional Metis fiddling. Hap served for 23 years in the Canadian Armed Forces mostly with the 3 rd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. His ni! e style of playing too" him on international to rs that earned him wide acclaim in his field of m sic. He is one of the feat red artists on the #a$riel % mont &nstit te's Drops of Brandy, and Other Traditional Metis Tunes (2))2*, a fo r C% set, containing over +,) fiddle t nes performed $y +2 master Metis fiddlers. An accompanying $oo" was also released, with sheet m sic for every song in the compilation, as well as $iographies of the performers, and a detailed loo" at the history and c lt ral importance of Metis fiddling.

&n a #a$iel % mont &nstit te interview Hap reco nts+& was $orn +.2/, 0ovem$er 2 in a log ho se along M rray 1a"e not too far from Cochin. My parents were 2oe Boyer and Helen 3 4hey were married $y a father in Cochin. & was $apti5ed $y Father 1agott nearly 63 years ago. My dad was a fiddle player and he fiddled at home. He didn't fiddle in p $lic. &t was different with my #randfather, 7atrice Boyer, he was a great fiddle player along with his $rothers. He was also a 8igger. He was $orn in 9t. 1o is, 9:. He married late Charles 0olin's da ghter, ;irginia Boyer. & li"e fiddle m sic so m ch that & wo ld go to one ho se with my mother and sit $y the old fiddle players ntil & tired myself o t till & fell asleep. & se to listen to their fiddle t nes. & got to play some of their fiddle n m$ers 1ater in the years, & got to myself one these rattle phones that yo wo nd p and got fiddle n m$ers. & copied some of these fiddle t nes< & copied most of the old lady fiddlers down home. & se to practice and practice and practice and & was getting nowhere, then & was 8 st disg sted. 4hen my mother told me that if & wanted to $e a good fiddle player, that & sho ld play at a crossroads when there is a $right moon and play at +2 midnight and yo will $ecome a fiddler. & never said
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#a$riel % mont &nstit te, Friday =cto$er ,, 2))+. http->>www.metism se m.ca>media>d$>)?6@/

anything, then one night there was a $ig moon so & p t my fiddle in a pillowcase and tied aro nd the saddle horn and rode my horse o t to the crossroads, a ! arter of a mile away. Aaited for +2-)) midnight and & played my fiddle at the crossroads, then & p t my fiddle $ac" in the pillowcase. & never told my mom for three or fo rs days. Ahen & told her she said & wo ld $ecome a fiddle player now. My dad's co sin, he's passed on now, he said B& got a rattle sna"e tail in my fiddle, why don't yo get oneC he said B4hat rattle sna"e tail is so that33333 when yo play.C & co ldn't get a rattle sna"e tail so & had a co sin from 0orth %a"ota come down and told her a$o t that so she said she wo ld try to get me one in 0orth %a"ota. 9he mailed me a rattle sna"e tail and on the parcel she p t fiddle rattler. 9o & got that rattle sna"e tail and p t it on this fiddle. Ahen & play that fiddle, if & don't have a pic" p on it, it's li"e &'m playing thro gh a com$ with a paper. 1ast s mmer when she (co sin from 0orth %a"ota* to Batoche she said to me that she got me another rattle sna"e tail. Ahen & got my pic" p in 7rince Al$ert d ring Batoche days, this one g y as"ed as a 8o"e Bdo yo have a rattle sna"e tail in thereC3 & said yes, and loo"ed at me and said really. He co ldn't $elieve it. 4he old MDtis people, a lot of time p t a rattle sna"e tail in their fiddle. =$it ary from the Battlefords News Optimist- =cto$er 3+, 2)+2 BOY !: Hap (Al$ert Ronald* Boyer (/3*, passed away in 0orth Battleford, =cto$er 2@th, 2)+2 8 st $efore his /@th $irthday following a $rief illness. Hap was $orn in a log ca$in near M rray 1a"e on 0ovem$er 2nd, +.2/ to 2oseph and Helen Boyer. He was raised on a farm and at a yo ng age, he pic"ed p the fiddle and ta ght himself to play. He played at many dances and as a yo ng man, then 8oined the army. 4here he contin ed to play and mastered his fiddle playing. % ring this time, he met his wife to $e, 9hirley 7atterson in Ainnipeg and they married in Aainwright, Al$erta in +.,2. 9hortly after, he was called away to serve in :orea with the Enited 0ations 7eace :eeping Force and while there, he contin ed to play his fiddle with his $and. &t was there, he adopted the name Hap when they named his $and Hap Boyer and His Homesteaders. He contin ed to play all over Canada with many professional m sicians and always $ro ght $ac" interesting so venirs on his travels. Hap spent 2+ years in the army, most with 3 RCHA and was stationed in many $ases incl ding his year in :orea, 2 years in #ermany, and ? months in Cypr s. Hap received ? medals for his achievements with the army. He and 9hirley had two sons, #ary, Ronald and a da ghter 9haron. He retired from the army in +.6+ and contin ed to wor" at several 8o$s incl ding mail delivery, ca$ driver and his favorite, playing his fiddle m sic and the many different $oo"ings. &n +./), Hap's da ghter 9haron died in a car accident in =ntario and at that time, her da ghter Mandy was $eing cared for $y Hap and his wife 9hirley. 4hey event ally adopted her and she $ecame their da ghter. 9o at middle age, Hap and 9hirley started raising a 2 year old and watched her grow p. Hap played for many years at Batoche and was also a Metis 9enator who was vocal on Metis iss es and history. Hap was disappointed when d e to his health he co ld no longer participate $eca se he co ldn't travel. He then foc sed on playing locally, still ma"ing and selling his recordings $oth tapes and discs and often playing at different n rsing homes with his $and friends for senior sh tFins. Finally, he co ld no longer do that and spent time at home with 9hirley, dog MaG and played his 2

fiddle, watched sports, Mc%onald's coffee and en8oyed his telephone calls with friend and family. =ver time, $oth he and 9hirley moved into River Heights 1odge d e to health reasons and were a$le to $enefit from the care, first 9hirley and later Hap. =n 2an ary 2@th, 2)+2, Hap lost his wife of ,. years H ? months, 9hirley to complications of dia$etes. Following her loss, he spent his time watching sports, interacting with $oth residents and staff and always had a 8o"e ready to go. Hap $ecame ill and a short time later, he passed away peacef lly, m ch li"e his wife did, months earlier. Hap Boyer is s rvived $y his sons, #ary (Carmen*, Ron (1oreen*, Mandy (#erry Bidy"*, several grandchildren and great grandchildren, also one sister, :athleen (;ince Converse*, sisterF inFlaw, 2 dy Hes"a of Ainnipeg and several nieces and nephews. Hap was predeceased $y his parents, 2oe H Helen Boyer, one $rother, Cla de Boyer, da ghter 9haron and recently, his wife 9hirley.

Compiled and Idited $y 1awrence Bar"well Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research 1o is Riel &nstit te